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Virginia Lags Behind On Road Safety, Study Reports

Car traffic in Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner in Fairfax County during rush hours.

A car accident lawyer who handles injury claims in Virginia discusses the study’s findings

Car accident fatalities increased dramatically nationwide last year, according to a recent traffic safety study. And researchers blame states like Virginia, which needs to improve its traffic laws, according to an article about the study published by WTOP News.

“States are overdue in enacting on lifesaving proposals,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in an interview with WTOP News. “Allowing this carnage to occur year after year, when solutions are readily available, is simply unacceptable.”

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety conducted the study. The organization analyzed accident data for the first half of 2021. Researchers then compared traffic laws for each state. Based on each state’s traffic laws, researchers gave each state a grade as part of “Out of Control: 2022 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws.” The organization gave Virginia a “poor” grade for its traffic laws.

Increase in car accident fatalities

The number of fatal car accidents in the first half of 2021 nationwide increased by 20 percent compared to the same time, according to the “Out of Control” study. The organization based its findings on car accident statistics compiled by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

The 20 percent increase represents “the highest six-month increase ever recorded in the history of FARS,” the report noted. The report added, “This is a major public health epidemic, and lawmakers can and must do more to ensure safe roads for everyone.”

In 2020, there were 38,680 car accident deaths nationwide, an increase of 7 percent compared to 2019. If the 20 percent increase in the first half of 2021 turns out to be true as well for the second half of last year, total car accident fatalities will increase to 46,416 for 2021.

As for Virginia, car accident fatality data for 2021 is not currently available. However, motor vehicle fatalities in Virginia increased in 2020 by 2 percent to 847 deaths, according to U.S. News & World Report based on statistics compiled by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. That year’s death toll is the highest in Virginia since 2007.

Why did car accidents increase last year?

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety identified several reasons why car accident fatalities and injuries increased in 2021. Such reasons include:

  • People not wearing seatbelts – nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities involved unrestrained passengers.
  • Drunk drivers – Drivers under the influence of alcohol cause nearly 10,000 car accident fatalities each year.
  • Younger drivers – Drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 cause more than 4,500 fatalities each year.
  • Distracted drivers – Drivers who don’t pay attention, including those who text and drive, kill more than 3,000 people per year.

Why did Virginia receive a ‘poor’ grade for its traffic laws?

As part of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety study, the organization analyzed and graded each state’s traffic laws. Virginia received a “poor” rating for its traffic laws. That grade was due to not having certain traffic laws that exist in other states. Virginia does not have the following laws:

  • Primary enforcement front seatbelt law
  • Primary enforcement rear seatbelt law
  • Booster seatbelt law
  • 50 hours of supervised driving for teen drivers
  • Nighttime driving restrictions for teen drivers
  • Passenger restrictions for teen drivers
  • A more expansive open container law regarding alcohol in vehicles

The report also noted that the annual financial impact of motor vehicle accidents in Virginia is $6.034 billion.

Crash victims may be entitled to compensation

If you were injured in an accident that wasn't your fault or a loved one died in a fatal crash due to negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses. The problem is insurance companies only care about keeping costs low and protecting profits. To them, the cost of your injuries and other damages are nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet. That's why you need someone who will stand by your side throughout every step in the process and aggressively advocate for the compensation you need and deserve.

At the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC, we have years of experience successfully handling complicated injury claims in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. As a result, we know the laws that apply to such cases and know what strategies work.

Take control and take the first step. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with a Virginia car accident attorney you can count on.

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